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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Children and Film Violence

Pastor David Petersen over at Cyberstones posted on this subject a couple of days ago.

I STILL have not yet seen Star Wars: Episode III, but I'm getting closer. We just re-watched Episode II this evening. And I felt that I needed to see that again first. Now we're in business.

Episode III has raised questions about whether young children should see such a violent film. It is rated PG-13, I believe, for that reason. The parents of a child are generally the best ones to discern what a child could/should view. But I agree with the post from Touchstone's blog, Mere Comments, to which Pr. Petersen refers. Though the writer, Russel Moore, is referring to Star Wars, he could just as well have been writing about The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and numerous other films.

The point is that violence is not always a bad thing. In line with the whole feminization of the church critique, contemporary folk keep trying to re-imagine God as a tree-hugging hippie peacenik, when the reality is that God is not a pacifist.

Now here's the part where I put in the expected caveats about God's truest nature being one of love and mercy, not judgment and wrath. And I'm not trying to be flippant. I believe that wholeheartedly. I also believe it was good and right for God to command the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites, for Elijah to butcher the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, for David to slay and behead Goliath, etc.

There's a war taking place that's more dangerous than the War on Terror. And that's because our biggest foe is not Osama bin Laden. It's the dragon, the ancient serpent, the accuser of the brethren, the adversary, the father of lies, the lord of the flies, the proto-murderer himself. And he hates you royally and is prowling like a lion seeking whom he may devour. And frankly, I'm glad that God is not taking the win-win approach with Satan. It's the ultimate all or nothing battle between good and evil, though the victory is not in doubt. It's a certainty, even a present reality. And every well-told story of good defeating evil is, at its best, an echo of the one true myth.

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John H said...

Pr Stiegemeyer, I think you're right about the over-sensitivity to some forms of "righteous violence" (though this goes hand in hand with de-sensitisation to violence in the Grand Theft Auto sense - decontextualised, amoral, "p0rn0gr4phic" violence).

Having seen Ep.III I would say there is nothing in that film that a reasonably robust younger boy couldn't watch. The violence is not graphic in the sense of blood and body parts flying around the screen, and is clearly placed in a context of good battling against evil (though, of course, only a Sith would deal in those sort of absolutes. Well heck, if the cap fits...)

I'd be far more concerned about exposing a young boy to the films's rubbish dialogue and characterisation. ;-)

Daldianus said...

You really want a bloody warrior God, don't you? So why has God become a peacenik between the OT and the NT?

And I guess violence is good when it's used like in 'Passion of the Christ' but bad in nearly everything else? That movie can disturb and traumatize kids/people for years. But I guess that's good since they'll need priests to recover ... ?

And one more question: Why did God create Satan in the first place? If he's supposed to be all good (God)? And why hasn't he defeated him yet?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Do I want a "bloody warrior God"? I just want to know, worship and be accepted by the one God, the God revealed in Holy Scripture.

Did God become a peacenik between the Testaments? Reading the words of Jesus about the coming judgment (not to mention the book of Revelation), I don't really see a difference. Have you read the Gospels?

Why did God create Satan? Everything God created was good. Satan was a holy angel who rebelled. Why does God allow His creatures to rebel against Him? I don't know why. And for the record, Satan has been defeated in the same sense that the Baathist party in Iraq has been defeated. Now we just have to deal with the insurgencies, until the Last Day when all will be righted forever.

Der Tommissar said...

So why has God become a peacenik between the OT and the NT?

Because as we all know, that whole smackdown on the moneylenders was just a ruse, an elaborate deception.

Preachrboy said...

John H,

I find it interesting in your comment that you mention a certain level of violence being appropriate for a young boy.

Are you, perhaps even sub-consciously, suggesting that when it comes to violence there is some sort of difference between boys and girls? That what might be acceptable or tolerable for a boy might not be for a girl? Not attacking, just asking.

Taoski said...

I think that the level of "violence" a child can "withstand" would be obviously based on the maturity of the child itself.

The violence that is shown in programs such as Tom and Jerry is not that much different from something you might see in Star Wars. Does the fact that it is "filmed" make it any more real? My 6 year old is into star wars at the moment and i will be taking him to see it soon. But only because i know he is clever enough to make the distinction between what he sees on the screen and real life.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I agree with what you say.

And let me specify for everyone that I am not saying movies packed with gratuitous violence, gore and brutality are OK. I am saying, that from a religious perspective, there is a time when fighting is the right thing to do. And I want my son to understand that.

Daldianus said...

pastor: I guess we will have to wait a little longer for the End of Days. The guys in the bible even thought it'll come during their life time. I guess they were wrong, weren't they? I don't believe in fairy tales anyway.

As for your analogy to the Iraq war: you're realizing that US soldiers get their ass kicked there right now? I wouldn't really use that war as an example ...

And saying that everything God created was good though Satan, and lots of humans, are doing evil stuff is just incoherent and completely illogical. It's ignoring the facts so you can uphold a shaky phantasy.

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